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Skywest changing flight

A pending time change in the morning flight from Jamestown to Denver could present connection issues for passengers, said Katie Hemmer, director of the Jamestown Regional Airport.

SkyWest Airlines notified airport management last week that its 6:30 a.m. United Airlines flight from Jamestown to Denver International Airport will depart at 9:30 a.m. starting April 29, she said. The reason is that the regional flights use the 50-passenger Bombardier CRJ100 and CRJ200 jets and the area of Denver's airport for the smaller jets is becoming increasingly congested during that time of day, she said.

"They needed to adjust schedules to accommodate gate restrictions and one SkyWest flight had to move and unfortunately that was Jamestown," Hemmer said. "We're hoping it's very temporary."

SkyWest Airlines communications did not respond to voicemail or email requests for comment on Monday.

The approximately one-hour 6:30 a.m. flight from Jamestown allows passengers opportunities to make more flight connections than does the 9:30 flight, Hemmer said. The result could be longer layovers and multi-city routes that could discourage travelers who may use other airports if the trip itinerary is complicated or time consuming, she said.

Business passengers rely on the early morning connection to reach distant meetings in a timely manner, Hemmer said. Leisure passengers want to reach cruise ships, games and concerts without lengthy waits en route, she said.

Denver is a connection hub, she said. Jamestown has a higher than average number of Denver destination passengers but most are making connections to other destinations, she said.

The later flight could affect Jamestown airport passenger boardings, Hemmer said. There were 12,865 passengers who flew in or out of Jamestown in 2017 and just over 11,000 in 2018, she said.

If the passenger boardings fall under 10,000 it could affect Essential Air Service funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation, she said. The federal subsidies go to airlines that provide commercial passenger service to rural and small-community airports and have been available to airports in Jamestown, Devils Lake and Dickinson since 2014.

SkyWest is the only contracted commercial air service serving Jamestown Regional Airport.

A North Dakota congressional delegation helped make that funding possible, and the offices of North Dakota Republicans Sens. John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer and Rep. Kelly Armstrong are being contacted to lend support in this matter, she said.

"We have also been in contact with the Federal Aviation Administration and the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission," Hemmer said. "We will enlist the governor's office, the community and local business people as well."

It is early in the process and all attempts at the moment are with Jamestown and Devils Lake airports to work closely with SkyWest Airlines to see if anything can be done to restore the previous schedule, she said.

For now travelers should continue booking online or make reservations through a travel agent and see how the itinerary works with their plans to depart and arrive in Jamestown, she said.

"We certainly don't want to panic travelers," Hemmer said.

The 12:45 p.m. flight from Denver to Jamestown and the 1:15 p.m. flight from Jamestown to Devils Lake Regional Airport and then to Denver are unaffected by the change. The 10:45 p.m. flight from Denver to Jamestown is also unaffected.

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